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Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 12:38pmSanction this postReply
Need to search WSJ live for this.

Found it on this page, but this isn't the discussion. Interview with Peter Robinson.


Well worth a listen.

One memorable quote: "Acquisition of knowledge is difficult."

Another: "Government intervention is noise."

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Post 1

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 12:47pmSanction this postReply
Another interesting quote:

"With collapse of the family(especially in inner cities)...we end up with welfare state to take care of women and children...and a police state to take care of the young men."

"I'm optimistic, because when you have a train wreck ahead, people change...when disaster strikes, you have innovation..."

"The impact of interventionist government is primarily 'noise' to drown out entrepreneurial 'signal' ... it is destroying wealth."

"The seeker of assurity and certainty lives always in the past, which alone is sure....the future is available only to entrepreneurs..."

Post 2

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 7:15pmSanction this postReply
Thanks twice Freddo - lots of sanctions from me!  I have been grooving and spinning on this all day.  As you know, I have an academic interest in the origins of money and the origins of coinage.  Historian W. W. Tarn (as I recall...) called coinage "semata" i.e., symbology.  It is the muscle mystics who see gold as an "intrinsic" value, the same way that they perceive factories, patents, labor, etc., as having the power to deliver wealth independent of human intelligence.  The monumental failure of the Obamacare Website is only our own latest instantiation of the age-old prayer for what Herrmann Goering rightfully called a "Pluenderekonomie."  But all the plunder cannot create an economy.

Wealth is knowlege.

Even the word "essentially" is deep and metaphysical, harkening to Aristotle's theory of "essences." Knowledge is truly the essence of wealth. The essence of wealth is knowledge.

Post 3

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 6:05amSanction this postReply
"differences of knowledge...drive transactions....information is fundamentally surprise.'

For sure; gradients drive everything.

This is what happens when a fundamentally financial guy gets a spattering of insight into the physical world.

As much as I enjoyed his analogies, as well as his conclusions, his conclusions basically amount to sprint away from central planning/interventionist government and by doing so, we will unfetter entrepreneurial energy and reinvigorate the engines that drive our economies.

Are we close to seeing that happen? Or at most, working against its own interests, will only enough central planning/interventionist government be suppressed to allow entreprenurial 'surprise' to build the next bits of parasitic carcass?

My extension to his analogy is, we need to remove the signal from the bounds of a dirty wire/carrier, and let it rip on a pure fibre, transparent on a wide range of frequencies, and unimpeded.

I'd say wireless, but wireless is far more restrictive than fibre (by a factor of many billions.) Wireless is a very tiny neighborhood of usable spectrum, at least inside our atmosphere.

Post 4

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 7:31amSanction this postReply
With some irony; the unbound wireless spectrum requires far more regulation to be useful than fibre does. The government must grant monopolies (well, local monopolies -- exclusive right to spectrum)to create usable spectrum-- even with spread spectrum.

Both a copper wire and a glass fibre as carriers constrain signals, but one not nearly so much as the other. Fibre, by comparison, allows a much broader myriad of independent signals to coexist, side by side.

They are like different models of 'regulation.'

In his analogy, the nature of the regulation/restriction is key. A channel must be 'regular' so that signal can flourish and provide the 'surprise' that is new information which is to say, new wealth.

In our current model, which is his point, entrepreneurial signal is being drowned out by random legislative regulatory noise, such as the daily uncertain dictums du juor at the point of a gun pouring out of the train wreck that is Obamacare. They fatfingered their grand vision-- mainly because there is nobody within a thousand miles of this cluster fuck who ever so much as managed a lemonade stand in actual modern commerce.

They even failed to avail themselves of existing government resources with expertise in automating state MEDICARE/MEDICAID system for last 50 years. Ross Perot/EDS, Perot Systems cut their teeth implementing large government run health insurance programs. It's how Ross Perot made his millions. The point being, not that they needed to bring Perot out of retirement, but that there should have existed alot of government insititutional area under the curve -- experience -- to tap.

And they clearly did no such thing. Either government is incompetent at maintaining assets, and there is no such area under the curve after 50 years of MEDICARE/MEDICAID management, or the present activist infestation is just bone deep incompetent, or both.

Activist, interventionist government is failing right in front of our eyes. A guy like Gilder can spell out 'why' with a giant crayon, and still it is all just optics politics and the masses barely paying attention.

An Obama finds fertile ground in such a hot mess.

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 12/23, 7:32am)

Post 5

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 9:14amSanction this postReply
The hidden corollary to Gilder's hypothesis is this:

If your goal is the opposite, you seek to provide the noisiest, least predictable channel.

"In capitalism, the low-entropy carriers are the rule of law, the maintanance of order, the defense of property rights, the stability of money, the discipline and futurity of family life, and a modest and predictable role of government."

He goes on to say: "These low-entropy carriers do not emerge spontaneously. They originated historically in a religious faith in the transcendoent order of the universe."

(Gilder draws a cultural superhighway to Silicon Valley from the quiet, conservatively religious farm community values of Mid-Western America.)

If an outcome can be guaranteed, it yields no new knowledge, and thus, can not result in new wealth. Government attempts to repeal risk and replace it with guarantees is itself the destroyer of the engines of new wealth.

From his book, Men and Marriage: "The prime fact of life is the sexual superiority of women. Woman transform male lust into love; channel male wonderlust into jobs, homes, and families; change hunters into fathers; divert male will to power into a drive to create."

Perhaps one of the most PC incorrect statement it is possible to make in modern times...the interviewer was incredulous.

"Children give us our sense of long-term stake in the future." When that breaks down "the horizons of the society shrink, and all focus is on short term, not long term gain."

His premise is that only focus on the long term drives the most revolutionary new increases in knowledge/wealth; the focus on the short term (with silicon based arbitrage its most clear cut illustration) is valueless crap;(it is carcass carving.)

"What can save us is...the creativity of enterprise."

1946 Republican COngress cut gov't spending by 61%. The Keynsians of the time predicted total collapse-- a depression larger than the great depression. Instead, what resulted was the economies of the 1950s and early 60s.

(JFK and his $100B...which adjusts to maybe $1400B today, if we are generous and assume 0% increase in productivity...)

This tragedy has befallen the middle class in America .. if the family collapsed, as it appears to have happened in inner cities, we would need a welfare state to take care of the women and children, and a police state to take of the boys...

The harvest of liberalism is to put a third of young black men in jail.

(Was that the actual intent?)

Concentration of power in DC is the cause of most of our cultural, and as an effect, economic issues.

Optimism: Israel turned around in about three years.

Post 6

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 8:45pmSanction this postReply
The Classical Greek 'essen' is hardly 'deep'. Rather, it simply means 'to be'. what is 'essential is what truly is.

'What is'--or essence-- for Aristotle exists and is knowable by virtue of The Four Causes. Is-ness, for him, was not immediately perceptable.

You might expand more, please on your equivalnt of wealth= knowledge. Aristotle, for his part was opposed to  thiseven citing to his own son, Nicomacius, how the persuit of wealth drives one away from wisdom...

Post 7

Friday, December 27, 2013 - 9:50amSanction this postReply
Welcome to the RoR, Eva!  My classical Greek might not get me courtesans and fishcakes in the Athens of Perikles and Nikomachos. I only meant that calling wealth "essentially" knowledge is not to be passed off as "basically" or merely or fundamentally or more-or-less or "pretty much," all of which would be permitted meanings in vernacular American.  I meant only what I said:  that it brings into focus the nature of wealth.

When Ayn Rand called Aristotle the greatest of all philosophers despite his faults, she was serious about his failings. His view of wealth was one of many. 

You probably have more than enough reading right now, as you finish your degree.  When you get the opportunity this coming summer, perhaps you can get to reading The Virtue of Selfishness.  You have probably come across the works of Nathaniel Branden - perhaps more relevant to what is on your desk today.

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Post 8

Friday, December 27, 2013 - 4:43pmSanction this postReply
Thanks, Michael, for the welcome and the response!

Indeed, the nature of wealth is an issue driven by knowledge--not the least as to how it was gained in any particular case.

So yes, in this sense I would agree with you (as in the case mentioned in the Socratic dialogues): seeing a wealthy person does not necessarily lead to admiration. Without knowledge as to how wealth was gained, we must withold judgment.

We can therefore say that because wealth can either be condemmed or admired depending upon our knowledge of circumstance of acquisition, wealth in and of itself has no essence. Only human judgment can provide us with a key as to how we might react.

For an Aristotelian, of course, this is everything: 'ethos pathein.' ethics are how we feel, and react, hopefully based upon knowledge.

Thanks for the recommendations and, yes, I've always provided myself time for outside reading. Otherwise, why would I use 'Deleuze' as a nom de plume?! BTW, both he and Rand seem to focus upon how the subject is constituted- best accomplished with thought.

Lastly, yes, I'm interested in Rand's critique of Aristotle. Is it in tVoS or Branden, as recommended?

Many thanks, EM

Post 9

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 4:46amSanction this postReply
Matthews, you are going to find Ayn Rand a little light (or even lite) when it comes to criticisms of Aristotle. Someone once pointed out that she alluded to "higher mathematics" but seemed unaware of Goedel's Theorem. Rand grants to Aristotle her fundamental axioms of metaphysics, named in the three sections of Atlas Shrugged. In fact, only the Excluded Middle is his. (I have my own translation of Aristotle's statement from Metaphysics. I even made it into a little poster in Greek and English.) "A is A" actually was stated that way by Leibniz, not Aristotle.

I recommended VOS as her most accessible non-fiction work.

I suggested Branden, of course, because of your studies in psychology. Nathaniel Branden's first book The Psychology of Self-Esteem was written when he was directly associated with Rand and gave his name to the Nathaniel Branden Institute which marketed her books and related publications. Mostly, he has been been on his own since 1968 and developed a "biocentric" theory of personality and therapy.

(I published about a dozen articles in The Celator, a magazine for collectors of ancient coins, now closed. I assembled a set of about 50 small Greek silvers from the times and towns of philosophers from Thales to Hypatia. Relying on the Loeb Classic Library editions, I usually provided my own translations of Plutarch, etc. But I have not read much Aristotle, really.)

To speak to the title subject here relative to Aristotle, what is "wealth"? It is not just a pile of gold. Money has no value, except the things we can buy with it.

We commonly say that wealth is the ability to create money and that money is a store of wealth. But like "ethics" and "morality" which are also used interchangeably in daily speech, the relationship between money and wealth is not always explicitly defined in a non-contradictory way.

Care to give it a shot?

[Just a PS edited in: You mention Deleuze. What little I suffered through in graduate sociology classes did not open for me any Rand-Deleuze fusion. But you are a whole head taller than I am, so feel free to launch your own topic.]

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/28, 5:09am)

Post 10

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 11:53amSanction this postReply
"wealth in and of itself has no essence."

If wealth in and of itself has no essence, then why does self government concern itself so much with the forced re-distribution of that which has no essence?

Some wealth may be ill gotten does not translate well to all wealth is ill gotten.

Wealth is the excess of creation of value over the expenditure of value. Wealth is the accumulation of deferred current consumption of value.

If we claim to have a societal need for resources for charity and benevolence-- to aid those who can't create more value then they consume -- then we have a societal need for something of essence.

A man who proudly declares himself 'not interested in profits' must also ask if he is interested in loss?

Or does the Universe note his non interest, and then arrange its risk/reward game to provide him with a guaranteed break even with every unfocused, undisciplined throw of the non-risk dice?

Do we fish the shallows or the deep today? The answer isn't always the same. It is only after the fishing boats are safely back at the dock, their holds full of fish, that the economists and marxists and community organizers show up to declare their theories about the distribution of non-essential fish.

Risk is unavoidable in the universe, and requires the intelligent manage of focused risk in order to be overcome in sufficient amount to net positive return on effort(more value realized than expended in the pursuit of new value.)

That is just Man in the Universe as it is; no guarantees.

The rest -- the economic systems that have evolved to deal with that unavoidable boundary condition of existence -- have all had varying success in bringing fish back to the docks.

The USSR, for example, was farming with ox carts in the 80s, and we knew it-- even as Reagan made his grand compromise with O'Neill to dance in the endzone after the conflict's very last play.

And yet we didn't win the Cold War; we caught the Cold, and are still coughing up phlegm. What was once an external struggle has long devolved into an internal struggle for freedom.

The shed risk model -- including, once capitalists who have pursued legislative favor in an activist Congress forever playing clueless chutes and ladders from afar using OPM-- is ultimately a carcass carving/criminal enterprise. And we are living the results, in both collective and individual disbelief.


Post 11

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 7:07pmSanction this postReply
Nice words, Fred. I almost understand them; but it will take more than an Orwellian rote to explain what you mean by what you said. If you will forgive me for holding your feet to the fire, you come here to wax poetic as a surcease from your travails in engineering. Please, provide an engineering explanation of "wealth."
FR: "Wealth is the excess of creation of value over the expenditure of value. Wealth is the accumulation of deferred current consumption of value."

Wealth does not need to be physical, i.e., an amount of gold. It can exist as a ledger entry. Is all profit wealth? Why do we have two words? Do we need two words?

I am not interested in Merriam-Webster here, but in the objective identification of facts of reality. Profit is that which is left over after all expenses, including re-investment in replacements. If I spent $100 on wool, which I sell for $125, the first $100 must go back into more wool... but perhaps $110 needs to for the same amount; or maybe only $85... When all is said and done, my net net might be only $5 or $15. Is that "wealth"? Or is it profit?

I ask because if I know where to get more wool, that knowledge is wealth -- or so it is claimed here. Having $100 for wool when no wool is to be had does you no good. Money is only worth what you can buy with it. Money is not wealth.

If you know where the wool is, even if you have no money yourself, you can arrange a profitable enterprise by bringing others to the opportunity. (We have been watching "Deep Space Nine" on DVD. While we here and now value our "Bill of Rights" the Ferengi have a "Bill of Opportunities." Perhaps if were truly were capitalists, we would eschew rights for opportunities. (Just saying.)

(Edited by Spivak of Vulcan on 12/28, 7:08pm)

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/28, 7:22pm)

Post 12

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 8:21pmSanction this postReply
Actually, Aristotle was opposed to A=A, as cited in 7Meta 17. This would infer that reality is immediately perceptable. Plato taught him otherwise.

So what his teacher called 'phanomen' (appearence, presentation), he labeled 'hule' or 'indistinguished mass'. Hence, the four causes which again, was an ostensibe response to the A+A spouters of his epoch. 

Yet  what's amusing, of course, is how hoplessly idealist two of these really are: formal and final.

So perhaps one might say that Rand's 'reservations' with Aristotelian metaphysics totally misses the point. It's nice to say that the guy invented the 'scientific method' without really coming to grips with the specifics.

For Aristotle, wealth in and of itself is indeed lacking in essentiality. what embodies it with 'essence' is how it was acquired,and how it may be used.

Money is the means we employ to purchase commodities. In the days to which you refer, coinage was rare. Romans for example, mostly got by on chits. Supporting money with bouillon only adds a second dimension to its potential purchasing power. Or better said, he/she who owns the gold gets to determine its own value. hence, Golden Rule. 

Weealth seems to mean 'having the ability to purchase lots of stuff. This, for aristotle, was contingent upon having stuff to purchase. In The Economics he describes necessary goods being circulated by need, or 'metadosis'. Only non-essental extras were sold at the agora by huckstering (kapeleke).

re Deleuze: for him, the real question of philosophy was the constitution of the subject. Or to use the contemporary middlebrow lingua franca--'development of the individual'.

Post 13

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 8:29pmSanction this postReply

Suffice to point out that Fred is simply wrong in equating wealth with profit margin.

In a competitive situation, those with lower profit margins typically gain more wealth by luring in more business.

That's because if costs are assumed to be equal between competitors, lower prices would have to equal lower profit margins. Last i heard, lower prices attract customers...

Post 14

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 8:47pmSanction this postReply
The essental role of an elected government is to re-distribute wealth as viable purchasing power.

Markets are ad-hoc solutions devised for the optimal circulation of goods, services, and labor. They are not 'natural'.

The second half of the equation, as it were, is the redistribution process based upon fairness and need, which cannot be accomodated by market forces which, again, are permitted by said governnment.

Issues of fairness of taxation can fairly be debated in terms of cost/benefit. Likewise, the argument of personal incentive --that I work harder and produce more to the benefit of everyone if I'm permitted to retain more-- is strong.

What isn't is to argue 'philosophically' that taxation itself indicates an infringement on personal rights, as is therefore 'violent', or a denial of freedom. This is because you can't do philosophy in a vaccuum, or employ philosophically-sounding terminology to abstract oneself away from knowm reality.

So again, here's how the system works: You're permitted to engage in market activity if you follow the rules as to how this activity will be conducted. then you're taxed based upon what's democratically considered 'fair'.

If you (rightfully) insist that lower taxes will mean higher productivity , so much the better. But here's the handbook as to how the system works. Get over it. 

Post 15

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 1:58amSanction this postReply
This [A = A] would infer that reality is immediately perceptable.
I disagree with that on so many levels. Reality is directly perceptible. After all, what would it mean to say we are "indirectly" perceiving reality? Or, that we are NOT perceiving it? If we aren't perceiving reality, then what are we perceiving? Something else? Nothing? And A=A being an axiom, how can one argue against it without affirming it?
In a competitive situation, those with lower profit margins typically gain more wealth by luring in more business.
That's because if costs are assumed to be equal between competitors, lower prices would have to equal lower profit margins. Last i heard, lower prices attract customers...
Assuming costs are equal between competitors is a mistake. And lower prices does not always equal lower profit margins. Lower prices do attract customers, but so does higher quality, better service, easier access, and a host of other factors.
The essental role of an elected government is to re-distribute wealth as viable purchasing power.
That is also the essential role of a thief - to redistribute from those who have wealth, to himself. Governments are made of men and to redistribute the wealth of others is no less a form of theft when done by a government than when done by a local thug.

Markets are relatively free of initiated force, fraud and theft... or they are not. If it is a free market, then transactions flow from freely made choices and there is a profit to both parties to the transaction (each gains something they valued more than what they traded for it).

If the market is not free of coercion, there is less incentive to be productive or to save and invest... and the risks of simply possessing any wealth increase. The society in this situation becomes biased in favor of using force and the competition will be towards who gets to use the force and who is stuck being the victim.

The only proper purpose of a government is to banish the initiation of force, fraud and theft from the market place... and nothing else.
Issues of fairness of taxation can fairly be debated in terms of cost/benefit.
'Fairness' is an ethical term. When you claim that some kind of cost/benefit analysis can determine fairness, you are presupposing some moral standards, but just not mentioning them. Benefit to who? At what costs? If you aren't measuring costs or benefits within a hierarchy of values (a moral code), then how is measurement even possible? what is the cost of loosing the right to make one's own choice and the right to keep what one has earned?
You're permitted to engage in market activity if you follow the rules as to how this activity will be conducted. then you're taxed based upon what's democratically considered 'fair'. If you (rightfully) insist that lower taxes will mean higher productivity , so much the better. But here's the handbook as to how the system works. Get over it.
"Permitted"? It is the very nature of a "right" that differentiates between what requires permission and what does not. Who provides the permission? An elite? A democratic vote (i.e., a mob majority)? Issues of fairness (of taxation or anything else) can not be debated in terms of cost/benefit and nothing else without going back to the concept that the individual is not an end in himself and can be made the property of others. Who makes the rules? An elite? Or is it that mob who votes to devour the producers, eat the seed corn, and then look for other victims?

Post 16

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 8:46amSanction this postReply

Most of my instructors use first names, a minority use ms or sir, and only one uses last names. And guess what , he's rather old, male of gender, and teaches philosophy! Anyway...

My point was that A=A is an expression that both Plato and Aristotle considered pure nonsense; claiming it as an 'axiom would not win any points with them. Rather, they would simply say that you'd be confusing an axiom (which offers universal truths by which others can be obtained) with a tautology, which is true by definition.

Furthermore, axioms derive from math: a triangle, axiomatically speaking, has three sides, etc. To extend this method into logic is fair, as Leibnitz discovered. To extend the axiomatic method  into the material world is....sooo Platonic..because that's precisely what he did. So now Objectivism embraces Plato, the arch-idealist?

In any case, Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, et al, employed, and still employ, a 'method' for discovering reality precisely because it isn't immediate. Otherwise, why bother? Whales would remain classified as 'fish' if immediacy really worked.

Re wealth and profit, you're changing the conversation to an exotic analysis, or muddying the waters, as they say. Must one always write 'ceteris paribus'? 'Wealth' depends upon scale, while 'profit ' is a simple math: revenue minus cost. In other words, you can be extremely wealthy at a low rate of profit.

Driving the competition out of business by willfully lowering one's rate of profit is how the system works. Big companies, having more assets, can sacrifice profit for a longer time.
Well, at least that's what we learn in Economics class as taught by ultra-liberals who want to destroy free enterprise!

'Second thought-- because in today's America there are no huge corporations, what we have is a static state of (almost) perfect competition. And because scales of operation are (nearly) the same, wealth equals profit. Whatever...

Re markets and government, your key statement concerns 'permission'? here, you seem to be arguing two contradictory points at once (obiter dictae): either (A) 'the government' is interferring in a natural state of affairs called 'the market', or (B) 'permission' is what governments do because markets are their ad hoc creations. 

If (A), then you're simply wrong, historically speaking. Markets and property have always existed within the context of a particular political organization that defines right and obligation.

If (B), then you're simply using 'mob' and 'elite' to describe arrangements not to your liking. These, simply, are misplaced metaphors because using such labels only indicates anger. By doing so, you're not convincing anyone who does not share your anger that your ideas iof fairness are more of collective benefit that those presenly in place.

Lastly, yes, 'fairness' is an ethical term. Since we're not able to discover a 'moron' (a moral/ethical particle), we can either say that ethics/morality can either be discussed in its own sense as 'discursively objective', or that ethics /morality remain entirely subjective.

I opt for the former, because that's what philosophy is about. It's neither 'no solution' nor a hardened belief--a  religion. Neither sceptical nor dogmatic, but rather critical, as Kant said.

My understanding of Rand (despite her dislike of Kant) is that she spoke clearly, plainly, and intelligently as to what she thought was ethically true. This is admirable;  I seriously doubt if she intended to create a movement in which her writings would always remain the last word.


Post 17

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
My Dear Ms. Eva (I do hope that's your first name - I extracted it from the email address in your profile),

You wrote:

Most of my instructors use first names, a minority use ms or sir, and only one uses last names. And guess what , he's rather old, male of gender, and teaches philosophy!
Well, I tend to use the name listed in the post ("Mathews" in your case), and I am an old male... was I teaching you any philosophy? :-)

I usually use a person's first name - when I have it, but out of respect, I'll go with the person's wishes on this. You tell me how you'd prefer to be addressed.

As to axioms, I'll let Rand speak for herself:
"Axioms are usually considered to be propositions identifying a fundamental, self-evident truth. But explicit propositions as such are not primaries: they are made of concepts. The base of man’s knowledge—of all other concepts, all axioms, propositions and thought—consists of axiomatic concepts.

An axiomatic concept is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest.

The first and primary axiomatic concepts are “existence,” “identity” (which is a corollary of “existence”) and “consciousness.” One can study what exists and how consciousness functions; but one cannot analyze (or “prove”) existence as such, or consciousness as such. These are irreducible primaries. (An attempt to “prove” them is self-contradictory: it is an attempt to “prove” existence by means of non-existence, and consciousness by means of unconsciousness.)" [from Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, page 55]
That ain't Plato! And when you say, "...axioms derive from math..." you need not be so restrictive. "Axiom" isn't the only word to have acquired slightly different meanings in different fields.
In any case, Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, et al, employed, and still employ, a 'method' for discovering reality precisely because it isn't immediate.
I'd point out that the 'method' one should employ will be applied to what one perceives. Our connection to reality is via the senses which are presented to us as perceptions. We have to begin with the perceptions before we can form the abstractions that give us the deeper understanding of reality.
Driving the competition out of business by willfully lowering one's rate of profit is how the system works. Big companies, having more assets, can sacrifice profit for a longer time.
Well, at least that's what we learn in Economics class as taught by ultra-liberals who want to destroy free enterprise!
Competition is about making the consumer happier with your product or service than the alternatives, while making a profit that justifies the capital risk. Apple has increased it's market share while being at the high end of the price spectrum. Liberals are always fussing about "driving the competition out of business" as if they ever wanted competition... given their predilection for establishing state monopolies - like single payor health systems, taking over industries instead of privatizing. With the ultra-liberals, the first thing to understand is that lies are their primary tool - the means they believe to be justified by their ends - they can, and do, make up whole bodies of 'knowledge' to justify gaining control over others and to motivate the ignorant but faithful. That's the bare-bones nature of the beast.
Markets and property have always existed within the context of a particular political organization that defines right and obligation.
There is the moral and there is the legal. They aren't the same. In a rational moral system, I am the owner of my body, for example, and that is regardless of what laws the political organization passes. So, I have a moral right to smoke pot even if I live in a state where the laws make it illegal. And you are quite right that "markets... have always existed within the context of a particular political organization." Having an objectively derived moral code, makes it possible to derive a rational legal system based upon universal moral values - i.e., individual rights. In this way we can have moral rights, legal rights, and the obligations created by that political organization are just to not violate those laws that are protecting the individual rights (moral rights).
If ... you're simply using 'mob' and 'elite' to describe arrangements not to your liking..."
Nope. I'm doing more than describing something that's not to my liking. I'm pointing out the logical inconsistency of assuming any rationality in a political system that has different rules for different people. Laws (and government itself) derive their moral justification from benefiting each person subject to it's jurisdiction equally. Equal under the law, is the measure. Rule by elites is, by its nature, subjective and destructive of individual rights which are the tie between morality and law that makes equal under the law possible. If we do have any moral rights (like the right to our life) then our rights are, of logical necessity, equal (there can be no such thing as a right to violate a right). From that position we can see that a majority group of individuals can not 'rightfully' violate the rights of a minority group of individuals. To attempt to derive moral right out of majority rule is to justify lynch mob behavior.
I seriously doubt if she [Rand] intended to create a movement in which her writings would always remain the last word.
You've got that right - she abhorred movements of that sort. We agree that ethics/morality should not be seen as subjective. And that is where Rand was adamant that people not attempt to take her words and use them in ways she would not agree with. Let them create their own set of words - her statements always came from her premise that there is an objective reality.

Post 18

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 10:45amSanction this postReply
Eva, just a couple of quick notes.  (Your post touched on too many point for me to address here all at once. And, I'm waiting for Fred.)

Most of us are on a first name basis, but you set your username to "Matthews."  We do offer some deference to Tibor Machan. No one calls him Tibor. We do have other professors here, but he seems to hold the highest social status. 

Markets existed before governments, depending on what we mean by those.  Tribes do have rulers, granted that.  However, the marketplace as an institution preceded mundane or secular government as a succession of rulers committed to a pre-defined (well-defined) structure, more than verbal tradition.

I am curious about your statement that the Romans got by with "chits" in lieu of coinage.  That contradicts everything I know about commerce in Rome from its first days.  "Chits"  or "spintriae" or "tesserae" are known, but only as curious adjuncts, still not well understood. Coinage was widespread and plentiful.  Do you have a citation?

To say that a triangle has three sides is a tautology, and does not meet what you claim for an axiom.

And I just deleted what I should have kept.  Axioms come from Aristotle, not Euclid.  Euclid's Elements has no axioms.  He had "Beginnings" Horoi and "Common Notions" koinoi ennoiai and what we call "Postulates"  but what he called "Demands" aitemata.  In this case, mathematics advanced by the study of logic, not the other way around. 

And just to note: we welcome your comments, insights, etc. I certainly do, at leas. That is the reason why I caution you that as noted above you are in a room of professors.  We have been at this since before you were born. That does not make us smarter - young people tend to be smarter, if by that we mean doing better on IQ tests - but we pretty much have a lot of reasons for what we believe because over the last 40 years or so, the bad ideas mostly fell away.  You can teach an old dog new tricks.  Just make sure that they are new.  We already know how to roll over, play dead, climb ladders, ring bells....

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/29, 11:05am)

Post 19

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply

My sincere apologies for accidentally having set my user-name to 'Matthews'. as to how this happened, I'm absolutely clueless.

Do pre-state societies (tribal) govern themselves? Of course. Is marketeering normally permitted outside the boundaries of custom or permission? of course not.

Societies have nearly always permitted markets for surplus; again, my example, as given,  is Athens as described by Aristotle. Then again, when surplus becomes a danger , it's destroyed, as in the case of Kwakiutil potlatch...

The notion of 'natural' markets anticeedent to social organization is a canard passes down from A. Smith, in order to dive home his point that merchantalism is 'unnatural.' well, he was wrong. No real Anthropology would suggest otherwise. His, OTH, was based upon speculative nonsense.

Perhaps the best citation for both markets and money (chits) would be David Graeber's 'Debt, the first 3000 years. Although his conclusions might be disagreeable, the facts he uses are mainstream anthro 101/2/3...

Of course, coined money was in use in all large 'ancient' civilizations. Caravans used these to redeem and exchange goods in places where there was no face-to-face, personal interaction.

Coins were also used to enforce tax obligation as far back as Babylonia. Oppressive states forced farmers to pay taxes not in goods, but in metal--hence, the 'money changer story from the New Testament: state-sponsored banking capitalism at work.

Euclid's rules are considered 'axioms' in every modern textbook, and consistent with standard (modern) definition: a premise that's held to be true without further question. It's a tautology, indeed in the Platonic sense that all definitions grab their own tails. In any case, one is free to google up euclid elements axioms and let wiki arbitrate...at least common usage.

'Axion' in modern greek means, 'worthiness', as in 'Axion Esti', whhich may refer either to the seventh-century mode to the Theotokon or, of course, the poem by Elitis: "Worthy she is, by native land..."

Now one might think, 'Oh, how different Medieval and Modern Greek is from the Classic', but in this case, the word has carried accross. 'Axiom' was not used by Euclid because he found indirect metaphors disagreeable. But then again, Aristotle never labeled his 'metaphysics' as The Metaphysics, nor, obviously did Sophocles entitle his play Oedipus Rex. All this consists of 'modern' editing.

but lots of the Greecian stuff still gets twisted. Try 'tolmema' on for size, and kindly tell me if Socrates meant 'disgusting' or 'daring'.Then go on Youtube and see how (why?) modern Greek still gets transliterated into English with dangling greecophonic dipthongs! [oi=e, nt=d, mp=b, etc...]

Since mom and dad are full professors (theoretical physics and experimental psy), I'm used to dinnertable professorial chitchat.
Mom's ancestry is second -generation Greek-- so being a virtual classics minor comes with the turf. My real minor is Anthropology.

In this respect, I'm sad to find that old dogs acn't be taught new tricks. Is euthanasia in your future? My eleven-ish sister, replete with Disneyisms, claims that the word means, 'To make youthful'....


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